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Lorain, Ohio
City of Lorain
Downtown lorain, ohio 2.jpg
Lorain Palace Theater.jpg
2006-07-25 - Road Trip - Day 2 - United States - Ohio - Lorain - Port 4889082394.jpg
Joseph H. Thompson.jpg
From top left: Lorain central business district; Lorain Palace Theater; the Lorain lighthouse; Charles Berry Bridge in the Lorain Harbor.
Official seal of Lorain, Ohio
International City, Steel City
Location within the state of Ohio
Location within the state of Ohio
Location of Lorain in Lorain County
Location of Lorain in Lorain County
Country United States of America
State Ohio
County Lorain
Founded 1807
Incorporated February, 1817
Incorporated July 16, 1834 (township)
 • Type Mayor–council
 • Total 24.08 sq mi (62.37 km2)
 • Land 23.61 sq mi (61.14 km2)
 • Water 0.47 sq mi (1.23 km2)
610 ft (186 m)
 • Total 65,211
 • Density 2,704.92/sq mi (1,044.39/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
Zip code(s)
Area code(s) 440
FIPS code 39-44856
GNIS feature ID 1077529

Lorain is a city in Lorain County, Ohio, United States. The municipality is located in northeastern Ohio on Lake Erie, at the mouth of the Black River, about 30 miles west of Cleveland. As of the 2020 census, the city had a population of 65,211, making it Ohio's tenth-largest city, the third-largest in Greater Cleveland, and the largest in Lorain County by population.


Lorain is located in the former Western Reserve and was occupied by Native Americans until the consummation of the Treaty of Fort Industry in 1805. The treaty, between the U.S. government and the Wyandot, Ottawa, Chippewa, Munsee, Delaware, Shawnee, and, Pottawattamie, seceded the land west of the Cuyahoga River to the Connecticut Western Reserve. In notes from surveyor Abraham Tappan, land west of the Cuyahoga River was entirely void of permanent settlement from any people, meaning that all aboriginal people evacuated all 3,336,000 acres of land by the time Tappan arrived near the Black River in 1807. The first permanent settlement in present-day Lorain was founded in 1807 by Azariah Beebe and established as a trading post for trading goods with Native Americans. James Reid, one of the original settlers of Black River township, built a large house near the bluffs overlooking the Black River in 1812 to be used as a dwelling and tavern. In the following years, a post office for "Mouth of Black River," which also held the office for the Justice of the Peace.

The Black River provided several advantages for the early settlement and allowed for it to be a more desirable location to build. The Black had the first navigable waters west of the Cuyahoga River and offered a slight embayment along the cliffed shoreline that provide safety for the small sailing craft of the time. It was said that the Black River harbor was the best natural harbors among the Great Lakes. In addition to providing an area for immigrants to stop while on their way to the Firelands, the harbor provided space for ship building, with the first ship, General Huntington, being built in 1819.


1834-mouth of black river-lorain
1834 Plat Map for the village of "Mouth of Black River", from Durand survey. (click for more info).

The people of what would one day become Lorain incorporated the village of Charleston in 1834 and a town site was surveyed by Edward Durand containing 7 city blocks. The original plat for the village included a public square, now named Veterans Memorial Park, and an early street grid, which was the area of town bound by First Street to the north, Broadway Avenue to the east, Fourth Street to the south, and Oberlin Avenue to the west. Lots were sold in the town and in 1836 the village of Charleston was granted a charter by the Ohio Legislature.


Lorain, part of the Cleveland–Elyria–Mentor metropolitan area, is located at 41°26′54″N 82°10′8″W / 41.44833°N 82.16889°W / 41.44833; -82.16889 (41.448241, -82.168862).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 24.14 square miles (62.52 km2), of which 23.67 square miles (61.31 km2) is land and 0.47 square miles (1.22 km2) is water.

The Charles Berry Bridge is located in Lorain, and is the second-largest bascule bridge in the world.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 1,595
1890 4,863 204.9%
1900 16,028 229.6%
1910 28,883 80.2%
1920 37,205 28.8%
1930 44,512 19.6%
1940 44,125 −0.9%
1950 51,202 16.0%
1960 68,932 34.6%
1970 78,185 13.4%
1980 75,416 −3.5%
1990 71,245 −5.5%
2000 68,652 −3.6%
2010 64,097 −6.6%
2020 65,211 1.7%
U.S. Decennial Census

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 64,097 people, 25,529 households, and 16,368 families living in the city. The population density was 2,707.9 inhabitants per square mile (1,045.5/km2). There were 29,144 housing units at an average density of 1,231.3 per square mile (475.4/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 67.9% White, 17.6% African American, 0.5% Native American, 0.4% Asian, 8.3% from other races, and 5.4% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 25.2% of the population, over 19% is made up of Puerto Ricans.

There were 25,529 households, of which 33.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 37.1% were married couples living together, 21.0% had a female householder with no husband present, 6.1% had a male householder with no wife present, and 35.9% were non-families. 30.8% of all households were made up of individuals, and 11.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.48 and the average family size was 3.09.

The median age in the city was 36.8 years. 26.7% of residents were under the age of 18; 8.8% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 24.6% were from 25 to 44; 26% were from 45 to 64; and 13.9% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 47.5% male and 52.5% female.

Parks and Recreation

There are 51 parks managed by the city parks and recreation department.

Lakeview Park

Lakeview Park is bisected by West Erie Avenue (U.S. Route 6), with the northern section being managed by the Lorain County Metro Parks and the southern by the city. The park was established circa 1917 under Mayor Leonard M. Moore as a way of providing more publicly accessible space on the lakefront. There were 8 casualties as a result of the tornado in 1924, which also destroyed all of the original bathhouse except for the concrete arches, which provide the support as the base for the current bathhouse. The bathhouse was rebuilt after the tornado and replaced once more in 2007, following the takeover of the park in 2006 by the Lorain County Metro Parks.

The Lorain County Metro Parks section of Lakeview Park features a playground on the beach, volleyball courts, a bathhouse with eight family changing rooms, five showers, and a concession stand, several gazebos and picnic shelters, lawn bowling, a color-changing fountain, an Easter egg basket, and a historical rose garden. The Lakeview Fountain was built in 1935 with local Amherst sandstone and has a multi-color display at night, with the spray of the fountain reaching 30 to 50 feet in height. The Easter basket was dedicated on April 3, 1941 as the "floral basket," featuring the design patented by Lorain Parks Department employee David Shukait; traditionally, families in Lorain, in celebration of Easter, take an annual photo at the basket. The rose garden was originally dedicated on May 30, 1932 and has 2,500 roses in 48 beds. The shape of the garden, a wheel with eight spokes, is the Rotary International emblem in honor of the 17 community organizations that funded the garden initially, including the Lorain Rotary. The garden was restored in 2005 and roses are planted to honor and commemorate those that had ties to the community or garden itself in city history.

The city operated section of Lakeview Park features baseball/softball fields, basketball courts, and tennis courts.


Over 70 different nationalities live in the Lorain area, hence the nickname "The International City." One of the highlights of the summer season is the Lorain International Festival. Many were originally attracted by work in the steel mills and ship yards. Lorain is sometimes referred to as Steel City because of its well-known steel mill. Downtown Lorain was devastated by a tornado in 1924 and as part of an initiative to rebuild the downtown several historic buildings were constructed, including the Lorain Palace Theatre which opened in 1928 and continues to operate today.



Lorain is notable for its deindustrialized economy, formerly being home to the American Ship Building Company Lorain Yard, Ford Motor Company Lorain Assembly Plant, and United States Steel Corporation's steel mill on the City's south side. The city faces many similar issues to other Rust Belt cities, including population decline and urban decay. Poverty in the city is above the national average at 26.2%, lower than Cleveland's 36%. but higher than neighboring Elyria's 22.2%

CenturyTel of Ohio is based in Lorain.

Top employers

According to the City's 2013 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the top employers in the city are:

# Employer # of employees
1 Mercy Health 1,657
2 Lorain City School District 870
3 Lorain Tubular 796
4 Republic Steel 633
5 CAMACO, Inc. 500
6 The City Of Lorain 468
7 Grace Management Services 314
8 Cleveland Clinic 300
9 The Nord Center 228
10 Walmart 211


Lorain City School District operates ten elementary schools, three middle schools, and Lorain High School.

Lorain has a public library, a branch of the Lorain Public Library.



Lorain primarily has a local street network with four state highways maintained by the Ohio Department of Transportation and one U.S. route. There are no interstate highways that pass through the city limits. Public transit is provided by Lorain County Transit, which operates two fixed-route bus lines. Norfolk Southern Railway operates a freight railroad running parallel to the Lake Erie shoreline.

Public transit

Lorain County Transit operates two fixed-route bus lines in Lorain: Route 1 and Route 2. Route 1 is a 34-stop bus route connecting Meridian Plaza in downtown Lorain to the LifeSkills Center in Elyria, operating one bus in each direction every two hours. Similarly, Route 2 operates every two hours and serves 36 stops, connecting the same points as Route 1.


  • U.S. Route 6 runs east-west along Erie Avenue, crossing the northern section of the City along the Lake Erie shoreline. U.S.-6 enters the city in the east from Sheffield Lake and continues west to Vermilion.
  • Ohio State Route 2 briefly runs east-west through city limits at the Broadway Avenue/Middle Ridge Road Diamond interchange (exit 166).
  • Ohio State Route 57 generally runs north-south, starting in the north at the intersection of Erie Avenue and Broadway Avenue. SR-57 runs south along Broadway until 28th Street, where the route then turns east and crosses South Lorain along the southern border of the steel mill. SR-57 turns south on Grove Avenue and continues south toward Elyria.
  • Ohio State Route 58 runs north-south, starting in the north at the intersection of Erie Avenue and North Leavitt Road and continuing south toward Amherst.
  • Ohio State Route 611 runs east-west, starting in the west at the partial interchange of Erie Avenue and West 21st Street and continuing east until Colorado Avenue, where it turns east and continues toward Sheffield Village.


There are three bridges that cross the Black River in the Lorain Harbor; two of these bridges are for motor vehicles and pedestrians and one is for rail transport only. The two motor vehicle/pedestrian bridges are the Charles Berry Bridge and the Lofton Henderson Memorial Bridge.These two bridges, formerly known as the Erie Avenue Bridge and 21st Street Bridge, respectively, opened on October 12, 1940. At the time of opening, they were coined the "Twin Bridges."

The Charles Berry Bridge is a double-leaf 1,052 foot (320.6 meter) bascule bridge; of the total length, 333 feet (101.5 meters) are the bascule span. At the time of construction, the bridge was the largest bascule bridge in the world and is now often credited as the second-largest in the world. Annually, the Charles Berry Bridge has an average of 700 openings.

The rail bridge, historically known as the 11th Street Bridge, is a single-track vertical-lift truss bridge operated by the Norfolk-Southern Railway and constructed in 1974.

Notable people

  • Terry Anderson, journalist and former Lebanese hostage
  • Dimitra Arliss, actress
  • Don Barden, Detroit businessman, Lorain's first black city councilman
  • Charles J. Berry, Corporal, recipient of the Medal of Honor during World War II
  • Rashod Berry, Professional Football Player
  • Sherrod Brown, United States Senator from Ohio since 2007
  • Michael Dirda, Pulitzer Prize–winning book critic
  • Stevan Dohanos, artist
  • Ruth Anna Fisher, historian and teacher
  • Ralph Flanagan, big band leader, pianist, composer, and arranger
  • Gerald Freedman, theatre director, librettist, and lyricist, and a college dean
  • Robert Galambos, researcher who discovered how bats use echolocation
  • Eddy Gragus, 1996 US professional cycling champion
  • Diane Grob Schmidt, 2015 president of the American Chemical Society
  • Quincy Gillmore, general
  • Ellen Hanley, singer
  • William Hanley, author
  • Raymont Harris, NFL running back
  • Lofton R. Henderson, US Marine Corps major, a hero of the Battle of Midway
  • Anthony Hitchens, college and NFL linebacker
  • JoBea Way Holt, planetary scientist
  • Ross Kananga, stuntman and actor
  • Ernest J. King, Chief of Naval Operations and Fleet Admiral of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet in World War II
  • Mary Lawrence, film and television actress
  • Ray Lawrence, bandleader, record company executive, record producer and personal manager
  • Marie McMillin, aviator, world record parachutist and member of Women's Army Corps
  • Sam McPheeters, singer of Born Against
  • Jason Molina, singer-songwriter
  • Toni Morrison, Nobel Prize laureate author
  • Chad Muska, professional skateboarder
  • Don Novello, aka Father Guido Sarducci, comedian featured on Saturday Night Live
  • Robert F. Overmyer, colonel in the United States Marine Corps, test pilot and astronaut
  • Martha Piper, former chancellor and president of the University of British Columbia
  • Helen Steiner Rice, author and poet
  • Pam Robinson, co-founder of the American Copy Editors Society
  • Ward Van Orman, three-time winner of the Gordon Bennett Race
  • Vince Villanucci, NFL player
  • Bruce Weigl, prize-winning poet
  • Matt Wilhelm, NFL linebacker, Ohio State national champion, Super Bowl champ
  • Johnnie E. Wilson, US Army four-star general

See also

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